Giving a quantum leap to the tourism sector in the state, the seaplane services will start from seven locations from March 2013, said Suman Billa, Secretary, Kerala Tourism. He was speaking at a press conference on the sidelines of the Kerala Travel Mart here on Friday. The locations are Kumarakom, Alappuzha, Munnar, Bekal and the three airports - Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode.
The Tourism Department will invest Rs 12 crore to provide infrastructure facilities for the project. As of now 58 companies have shown interest in the project, he added. “We have conducted feasibility study in 25 locations around the state and 22 locations have found suitable. The locations will be connected by seaplanes. Tourists can reach these locations in 20 minutes from the international airports in the state,” Billa said.
Elaborating on the plans of the Tourism Department, he said that adventure tourism and mice tourism (convention tourism) are the two focus sectors now. “We are actively promoting trekking, paragliding and hot air ballooning as part of adventure tourism in the state. Bolgatty Island in Kochi, Muzhappilangad in Kannur and Kappil in Thiruvananthapuram have been identified as locations for adventure tourism,” he added.
As part of ensuring safety of passengers in houseboats, the department is conducting a study on the carrying capacity in various locations. The studies at Kovalam, Kumarakom, Fort Kochi, Munnar and Thekkady have been completed so far, he added.
Mentioning the immense potential of the tourism sector Billa said that the industry generates a total of Rs 19,300 crore every year of which Rs 4,220 crore is foreign exchange earnings. “The industry is the second largest source of foreign exchange after NRK remittances. It provides livelihood for about 1.2 million people,” he said.
Rani George, director, Kerala Tourism, said as part of promoting ayurveda tourism the department is conducting campaigns in Germany, Sweden, Switzerland and Austria.